The Past in Pieces
Belonging in the New Cyprus
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
224 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm, 10 illus.
- ISBN: 9780812222319
- Published: December 2012
On April 23, 2003, to the surprise of much of the world, the ceasefire line that divides Cyprus opened. The line had partitioned the island since 1974, and so international media heralded the opening of the checkpoints as a historic event that echoed the fall of the Berlin Wall. As in the moment of the Wall's collapse, cameras captured the rush of Cypriots across the border to visit homes unwillingly abandoned three decades earlier. It was a euphoric moment, and one that led to expectations of reunification. But within a year Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected at referendum a United Nations plan to reunite the island, despite their Turkish compatriots' support for the plan. In The Past in Pieces, anthropologist Rebecca Bryant explores why the momentous event of the opening has not led Cyprus any closer to reunification, and indeed in many ways has driven the two communities of the island further apart.
This chronicle of the "new Cyprus" tells the story of the opening through the voices and lives of the people of one town that has experienced conflict. Over the course of two years, Bryant studied a formerly mixed town in northern Cyprus in order to understand both experiences of life together before conflict and the ways in which the dissolution of that shared life is remembered today. Tales of violation and loss return from the past to shape meanings of the opening in daily life, redefining the ways in which Cypriots describe their own senses of belonging and expectations of the political future. By examining the ways the past is rewritten in the present, Bryant shows how even a momentous opening may lead not to reconciliation but instead to the discovery of new borders that may, in fact, be the real ones.
The Sorrow of Unanswered Questions
Introduction: A Prelude to Mourning
One: Paths of No Return
Two: The Anxieties of an Opening
Three: A Needle and a Handkerchief
Four: Geographies of Loss
Five: In the Ruins of Memory
Six: The Spoils of History
Seven: The Pieces of Peace
Eight: Betrayals of the Past
Reading the Future (In Lieu of a Conclusion)
"Bryant's fine-grained, nuanced, and balanced ethnography provides a richly textured and highly insightful account. . . . [T]he book's strength is to transcend the uniqueness and partiality of its setting to give wider appreciation of how the longue durée of ethnic division shapes and is reshaped by contemporary realities."—Journal of Refugee Studies
"The Past in Pieces is a sensitive, jargon-free and very rich ethnography which. . . addresses fundamental issues in anthropology such as alterity, belonging, and politics."—The Political and Legal Anthropology Review
"A welcome and vibrant addition to the scholarly literature about Cyprus. . . . The various voices of the participants in her research, as well as Bryant's own voice, are well worth listening to."—Ethnic and Racial Studies
"Rebecca Bryant's The Past in Pieces offers timely insights about the ways in which protagonists' own experiences and memories with violence and loss complicate the peace process in a conflict ridden land even when the timing and circumstances seem ripe for a peaceful solution. . . Her gifted way of using metaphors while revealing her informants' experiences of loss, betrayal and violence, ability to describe even the most subtle feelings of her characters, and intellectual honesty about her personal dilemmas for not being able to remain objective at times are particularly captivating."—Nations and Nationalism